I have a huge spreadsheet about games and here's why that's cool

Hey! Know what's awesome? This baboon is awesome. 
                   

 Look at this Baboon. His jaw is a weapon of mass destruction. His pecs are hard as steel. His hair is majestic.   
You know what's also awesome? Data. 
 
(Ethan knows.)

mhhh... so juicy...
And that's why, a couple of years ago, i started maintaining a spreadsheet about games. It helps me to keep track of upcoming games i care about and already released games i still intend to play when there's time, and i also use it to track various data points about my game playing habits. Most importantly:  

  • Various game details - title, platform, release date, region (since it might be an import), etc.
  • The day i started playing a game. (Full game, not demos.)
  • The day i finished playing a game. (Some games obviously can't be finished; this is for games that have some kind of end point.)
  • Some other stuff, like game clock if the game measures the time spent playing. Sadly there is no real standard for how to measure that, so it's kinda worthless as a hard data point.
  
There are now 437 games in this spreadsheet. Keep in mind, these are all games that came up since ca. mid 2007.
 
So let's take a look at some charts: 

 
(larger) 
What does this chart say? In the last couple of years, i cared about games pretty evenly across all current platforms. Sometimes old stuff comes up too -  the SNES games at 1.72%, for example, could either be games i played or games i intend to play in the future.
 
Now, before i pulled the numbers i did not expect the PC to be my number 1 platform. My PC was built in early 2006, thus i stopped playing resource intensive games on it a while ago. Yet 18.97% of the games on my spreadsheet are PC games. I just underestimated how many relatively simple games (technologically speaking) i played over the years, e.g. Plants vs. Zombies, World of Goo, P.B. Winterbottom, stuff like that.  
 
I now realize that PC gaming has been diversifying more and more, and i didn't really think of it all as the same platform. 
 
Next up: More charts! 

2010 isn't over yet, i know. 
The first impression here might be that i start a lot of games but don't finish them. While i certainly sometime abandon games before i've seen the final cutscene, there's also a lot of games that don't have a traditional end point, e.g. fighting games, some music games and simulation-style games. 
  
So, why did i start playing almost 70 games in 2008, vs. 43 in 2009 and 39 in 2010?  
 
  1. It was a great year for games.
  2. I was still catching up on games that came out in 2007 (an even better year for games, remember?).
  3. I first got a PSP that year.
 
 Note how the amount of games i finished per year stayed about the same. Let's look at started & finished broken down by month: 

 Cumulated. That's the all months of January from 2007 to 2010 combined, and so on.
(larger)
This nicely demonstrates how more games tend to come out during fall than during the rest of year, and by extension how i play mostly newly released games. Not surprising, but still neat to see. 
 
Note that i finished most games in August. I think this is because i was trying to make sure i get games out of the way before the holiday rush starts. I don't really know though! 
 
Here's a timeline: 

    
 
(larger)
  • Again, 2007 was a crazy year for games.
  • See the decrease in activity during late 2009 and early-mid 2010? During that time i had a job that kinda messed up my priorities.
  • See how shit went nuts in the last few months? That's after said job ended... aww yeaaah. I caught up on tons of games during that time.
  • April 2010 was the only month since late 2007 where i didn't start or finish any games. Might have been playing a lot of FFXIII.
  • This data doesn't indicate how much time i actually spent on games. For example in periods during 2009, i was playing Rock Band every day, at least 5 hours a week. I wish i had that kind of data, but tracking it manually would be too tedious. It'd be cool if the console makers gave us access to it, since they're obviously tracking it.
 
Here's another timeline, games started per month, separated by platform: 

 
(larger)
Not sure about this one. The main takeaway is that there haven't been many PSP games i care about recently. I still haven't played Valkyria Chronicles II and Peace Walker yet, though. 
 
Also interesting is that the PC line doesn't show notable spikes during Steam holiday sales, even though Valve always gets me to buy a lot of stuff. And then i never play it. It sure seemed like a great idea at the time to buy that train simulator! 
 
Various fun facts i discovered in spreadsheet-land: 
 
  • Examples of games i finished on the same day i started them: Halo 3LimboPenny Arcade Episode 1And Yet It Moves.
  • Examples of games i finished on the day after the day i started them: BioshockSilent Hill: Shattered Memories, Heavy RainGears of War 2.
  • Longest recorded time between starting and finishing a game: Ouendan 2 on the hardest difficulty, at 414 days. Second place: PixelJunk Eden at 194 days. That's not including Encore, which took another 33 days.
  • I generally don't beat games more than once these days. The only exceptions since i started collecting data are Portal, MGS4 and Bioshock. Started a second playthrough of Gears of War but never finished it. There is some ambiguity here with certain games, e.g. Gitaroo Man Lives!, which i beat on regular difficulty and then again on the hardest one. I'm not sure if that should count due to the nature of that game. Then there's stuff like Rez, which i have probably played through more than 15 times, but it only takes about an hour to do so i'm not counting it.
 
 See? Data is fun! Imagine how much more interesting this will get 5 or 10 years from now. 
  
 Does anyone else keep track of their games like this? Please do share. You're also free to criticize my charts.
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Edited by 1p

Hey! Know what's awesome? This baboon is awesome. 
                   

 Look at this Baboon. His jaw is a weapon of mass destruction. His pecs are hard as steel. His hair is majestic.   
You know what's also awesome? Data. 
 
(Ethan knows.)

mhhh... so juicy...
And that's why, a couple of years ago, i started maintaining a spreadsheet about games. It helps me to keep track of upcoming games i care about and already released games i still intend to play when there's time, and i also use it to track various data points about my game playing habits. Most importantly:  

  • Various game details - title, platform, release date, region (since it might be an import), etc.
  • The day i started playing a game. (Full game, not demos.)
  • The day i finished playing a game. (Some games obviously can't be finished; this is for games that have some kind of end point.)
  • Some other stuff, like game clock if the game measures the time spent playing. Sadly there is no real standard for how to measure that, so it's kinda worthless as a hard data point.
  
There are now 437 games in this spreadsheet. Keep in mind, these are all games that came up since ca. mid 2007.
 
So let's take a look at some charts: 

 
(larger) 
What does this chart say? In the last couple of years, i cared about games pretty evenly across all current platforms. Sometimes old stuff comes up too -  the SNES games at 1.72%, for example, could either be games i played or games i intend to play in the future.
 
Now, before i pulled the numbers i did not expect the PC to be my number 1 platform. My PC was built in early 2006, thus i stopped playing resource intensive games on it a while ago. Yet 18.97% of the games on my spreadsheet are PC games. I just underestimated how many relatively simple games (technologically speaking) i played over the years, e.g. Plants vs. Zombies, World of Goo, P.B. Winterbottom, stuff like that.  
 
I now realize that PC gaming has been diversifying more and more, and i didn't really think of it all as the same platform. 
 
Next up: More charts! 

2010 isn't over yet, i know. 
The first impression here might be that i start a lot of games but don't finish them. While i certainly sometime abandon games before i've seen the final cutscene, there's also a lot of games that don't have a traditional end point, e.g. fighting games, some music games and simulation-style games. 
  
So, why did i start playing almost 70 games in 2008, vs. 43 in 2009 and 39 in 2010?  
 
  1. It was a great year for games.
  2. I was still catching up on games that came out in 2007 (an even better year for games, remember?).
  3. I first got a PSP that year.
 
 Note how the amount of games i finished per year stayed about the same. Let's look at started & finished broken down by month: 

 Cumulated. That's the all months of January from 2007 to 2010 combined, and so on.
(larger)
This nicely demonstrates how more games tend to come out during fall than during the rest of year, and by extension how i play mostly newly released games. Not surprising, but still neat to see. 
 
Note that i finished most games in August. I think this is because i was trying to make sure i get games out of the way before the holiday rush starts. I don't really know though! 
 
Here's a timeline: 

    
 
(larger)
  • Again, 2007 was a crazy year for games.
  • See the decrease in activity during late 2009 and early-mid 2010? During that time i had a job that kinda messed up my priorities.
  • See how shit went nuts in the last few months? That's after said job ended... aww yeaaah. I caught up on tons of games during that time.
  • April 2010 was the only month since late 2007 where i didn't start or finish any games. Might have been playing a lot of FFXIII.
  • This data doesn't indicate how much time i actually spent on games. For example in periods during 2009, i was playing Rock Band every day, at least 5 hours a week. I wish i had that kind of data, but tracking it manually would be too tedious. It'd be cool if the console makers gave us access to it, since they're obviously tracking it.
 
Here's another timeline, games started per month, separated by platform: 

 
(larger)
Not sure about this one. The main takeaway is that there haven't been many PSP games i care about recently. I still haven't played Valkyria Chronicles II and Peace Walker yet, though. 
 
Also interesting is that the PC line doesn't show notable spikes during Steam holiday sales, even though Valve always gets me to buy a lot of stuff. And then i never play it. It sure seemed like a great idea at the time to buy that train simulator! 
 
Various fun facts i discovered in spreadsheet-land: 
 
  • Examples of games i finished on the same day i started them: Halo 3LimboPenny Arcade Episode 1And Yet It Moves.
  • Examples of games i finished on the day after the day i started them: BioshockSilent Hill: Shattered Memories, Heavy RainGears of War 2.
  • Longest recorded time between starting and finishing a game: Ouendan 2 on the hardest difficulty, at 414 days. Second place: PixelJunk Eden at 194 days. That's not including Encore, which took another 33 days.
  • I generally don't beat games more than once these days. The only exceptions since i started collecting data are Portal, MGS4 and Bioshock. Started a second playthrough of Gears of War but never finished it. There is some ambiguity here with certain games, e.g. Gitaroo Man Lives!, which i beat on regular difficulty and then again on the hardest one. I'm not sure if that should count due to the nature of that game. Then there's stuff like Rez, which i have probably played through more than 15 times, but it only takes about an hour to do so i'm not counting it.
 
 See? Data is fun! Imagine how much more interesting this will get 5 or 10 years from now. 
  
 Does anyone else keep track of their games like this? Please do share. You're also free to criticize my charts.
Posted by Tennmuerti

I liked the baboon.

Posted by nintendoeats

I think you need to give us a thesis statement before expecting us to do anything other than TL;DR

Posted by 1p
@nintendoeats: The baboon pretty much serves that purpose.
Posted by TheGreatGuero

Holy crap that is a lot of games. I find it really interesting that you'd do this. You finish a lot more games than I do, that's for sure.

Posted by 1p

Fixed stuff; added links to high-res charts.

Posted by Bollard
@nintendoeats: His thesis is: "Yo dawg I heard you like graphs dawg."
Posted by ethan

Yes, but where are the pie charts? 

Posted by 1p

@ethan:

I see what you did there.

Posted by matti00

That was actually really interesting to read, I'd love to be able to read that sort of data about myself, not only to do with with games but also with other aspects of my life.
Unfortunately, I do not have Asperger's Syndrome.

Posted by apeman

you have likely provided all the necessary evidence of some sort of mental illness. 

Edited by 1p
@apeman:

You're saying the baboon part was over the line?


@matti00 said:

"That was actually really interesting to read, I'd love to be able to read that sort of data about myself, not only to do with with games but also with other aspects of my life."

Thanks. I do that as well, and it's totally worthwhile. There are various sites dedicated to this topic.
Edited by Jeust

Nice stats. ^^  
 
I like them, but I wouldn't have the patience to do something like that. I imagine the amount of hours that flew out of the window to do it. Great job though! 
 
@apeman said:

" you have likely provided all the necessary evidence of some sort of mental illness.  "
Maybe a bit of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  
 
Everyone has their poison. 
Posted by Kontrapunkt

DATA!!!!!!
 
That's neat, being a PC game player, I knew that after reading this and thinking back, the amount and type of games that I would play wouldn't really be very different but after thinking a bit more, there is a diversity in what can be found on my PC, and there really is a subtle shift in the sort of PC market not just Counter-Strike, Starcraft machines, or what have you.

Posted by Jack268
@apeman said:
" you have likely provided all the necessary evidence of some sort of mental illness.  "
A fondness for collecting statistics about your life is a mental illness? I suppose everyone who has a clear cut budget is a nutter then.
Posted by 1p

Added a part about multiple playthroughs.

Posted by apeman
@Jack268 said:
" @apeman said:
" you have likely provided all the necessary evidence of some sort of mental illness.  "
A fondness for collecting statistics about your life is a mental illness? I suppose everyone who has a clear cut budget is a nutter then. "
nice try.
Posted by Jack268
@apeman said:
" @Jack268 said:
" @apeman said:
" you have likely provided all the necessary evidence of some sort of mental illness.  "
A fondness for collecting statistics about your life is a mental illness? I suppose everyone who has a clear cut budget is a nutter then. "
nice try. "
nice argument
Posted by 1p

Don't be dicks on my blog, guys.

Posted by The_Philosopher
@Bib:  Neat stuff, I'd like to see my stats for that sort of thing. Maybe I'll do it next rainy day. I'd say a service that does that sort of thing could be really popular. Some people may look at this and think your a little nuts. I just think it means that you found an interesting way to entertain yourself and you enjoy charts. I fucking love charts and diagrams, there's nothing wrong with it.
 
Posted by leebmx

This is interesting but I always think I would be scared if I collected any data of this sort. Just looking at the Time Played clock on games makes me wince sometimes. I also think that if you collect data in thie much detail about you life you can end up spending more time analysing your life than living it.  
 Statistics can be very interesting though.

Posted by nobull6

Love it. 
 
I was so happy that the Wii has those little messages about time played, but I wish that was exportable, and I wish the other consoles did something similar. I keep track of my achievement totals, but I have nothing like this available. You have inspired me to do something similar starting in 2011. I could probably pick out start and end dates for games based on achievement timestamps on the 360, but will probably just do this going forward. 
 
Would you be willing to share your file? I'd like to see how you organized everything.

Edited by 1p
@The_Philosopher said:

"I'd say a service that does that sort of thing could be really popular."

I agree! I'd totally make it myself if i had the means. It'd be cool if everything was fully automated, but the console makers would have to allow that. The achievement tracking stuff on this site is going in the right direction. 

Posted by EVO

I dunno what's nerdier: the fact that you collected all this data, or that I found it really interesting. Reminds me of this Demetri Martin special: 
  

   
  
Edited by 1p
@nobull6 said:

"Would you be willing to share your file? I'd like to see how you organized everything. "

Don't want to share the sheet because it's a bit of a mess right now and i want to clean it up first and make some revisions, but here are the headers i use:

  1. game title
  2. status - E.g. upcoming, now playing, done playing, backlog, and so on. Useful for sorting.
  3. platform
  4. release dates - Separated between regions. I'm in Europe, so i sometimes need to import games if i want them earlier. Seeing both domestic release dates and US or Japanese release dates side by side helps me gauge which version to get.
  5. release date confirmed? - If i enter games that are too far out to have a release date, or games that have a tentative release date ("Fall 2011"), i still enter an approximated release date. That way, games still show up on the appropriate spot on my calendar, which the spreadsheet is linked to.
  6. date started playing
  7. date finished playing
  8. an indicator for multiple playthroughs
  9. game clock - After finishing the game, if the game provides it.
  10. notes - I put stuff like completion percentage here (e.g. finished Lost and the Damned at 68.75% and didn't go back), or difficulty setting. Information that seems relevant, but isn't covered by any of the other headers.

Hope that helps.

Posted by RagingLion
I thought this was really cool and I found it really easy and compelling to read too.  Quite a project to keep that all going but the longer it goes on the more interesting it will be, especially for you personally.
 
@EVO:   Dude, Demitri Martin hellz yes.  I love that 'If I' show.  That palindrome poem is crazy.
Posted by crusader8463

Cool. I always wanted to do something like this with my games, but I never get past making a few column titles.

Posted by nobull6
@Bib: Thanks for sharing. I'm incorporating that data into my current spreadsheet to get set for next year. See you in twelve months and I'll share what I've got!
Posted by smudo

That is all sorts of awesome. I use Collectorz to manage my games collection (450 games so far) and it's got a few graph/statistic options that I've always wanted to completely fill out (release date, publisher, metacritic rating, etc), but I can never find the time.
The most I've ever gotten around to is filling out the release year for every game, and that took an entire rainy evening.

Posted by Dalai

Well you've put my love for data to shame.

Posted by 1p
@nobull6 said:
" @Bib: Thanks for sharing. I'm incorporating that data into my current spreadsheet to get set for next year. See you in twelve months and I'll share what I've got! "

Cool. I'll check it out if you notify me.

Thanks for the positive comments, everyone.
Posted by fishmicmuffin

I was surprised to see that your number of finished games never topped your number of started games in any given month. Do you consider yourself as the type of gamer that starts games but doesn't play them to completion? Or is it just something else entirely accounting for this?

Posted by csl316

as a database administrator, i sadly find this fun and exciting

Posted by LLJK_Jasta

I am not the type to keep statistics like this, but I think it is awesome that you did.  ^_^

Posted by GlenTennis

Eff the haters, they just gonna hate.
 
This is really cool, though I've never done anything like this. It's all in the shambley tower of moldy drawers that is my brain.

Posted by catpowerd

Great post! Could have used more charts though.

Posted by 1p
@fishmicmuffin said:
"Do you consider yourself as the type of gamer that starts games but doesn't play them to completion?"

Actually not; i want to finish everything. But i'll still quit sometimes if i dislike a game, or if there are newer games i would rather devote my time to.

That's part of the reason behind these numbers. The other part are games that don't have an end point, so i never mark them as finished. DJ Hero 2 is a recent example, i played the final setlist in Empire mode a few days after i got the game, but i don't recognize that as "finishing the game" because i'll keep playing it.

Posted by Cwaff

All very interesting, keep it up!

Posted by Icadae

You know, I might just start doing this in 2011 - If anything, to keep track of my records for future purposes. However, I don't see how you can not finish games, thats just so far from the way I play my games. I only have 1 unfinished game, and that's because my old console ate the disc, and I haven't been able to find another copy. 
 
Thanks for the read.

Posted by Bullitus

That's actually a really cool idea. So cool that I immediately started my own spreadsheet project.

Posted by armaan8014

That genesis on the chart... reminded me of-
 
"PHIL COLLINS BROKE ANOTHER GENESIS!"

Posted by PenguinDust

All I could think of was this... 

 And how many games did I finish in 2008?  Anyone? Anyone?
 I did read the posting though (well, most of it).
Posted by Tordah

Damn, and I thought I was crazy when I started to retroactively add hours played to old games I've played through my life on my Raptr account. I love random stats for pointless personal stuff.

Posted by Eric_Buck

That is far too much work for a fun hobby.

Posted by Sooty

I'm doing a similar thing to this now actually, though mine is a database with information about each game.

Posted by CaLe

I thought about starting something like this but the fact that I forget so many of the games I have played in my lifetime puts me off it. I only have a list of games I have finished, which I only started about a year after I got my 360..

Posted by 1p
@CaLe said:
" I thought about starting something like this but the fact that I forget so many of the games I have played in my lifetime puts me off it."

Yeah, legacy data is a concern. But you can't recall everything. You can try to piece the data together by looking at time stamps on old savegame files, or finding receipts from when you bought the game, stuff like that. But you're not likely to be able to unearth a complete record of every game you ever played if you've been into games for a long time (like most of the people here obviously).

It's best to just start taking notes now, and commit to it. 15 or 20 years down the line, that will still amount to a lot of juicy data.

Posted by 1p
@Ygg:
What software are you using to do this?
Posted by tourgen

baboons are awesome.  the data is pretty cool too.  that's a whole lot of games / year. 

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